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Reactionary Patriots and European Romance: Aspects of Medievalism in Early Victorian Wales

Tuesday 28 January 2020, 5.30PM

Speaker(s): Huw Pryce (Professor of Welsh History at Bangor University, Wales)

In 1842 the Revd Thomas Price completed, in Welsh, the longest history of Wales written hitherto. Focusing mainly on the ancient and medieval past, Price pressed contemporary currents of European medievalism into the service of his patriotic agenda by claiming that medieval Wales had been the source of European romance and chivalry. Although the Welsh could be proud of their ancestors’ brave defence of their liberty before Edward I’s conquest in 1282, ‘this was only defence . . . Yet when they look at the effects of their literature, they see a cause for taking pride . . . for conquests of the most marvellous and honourable kind.’ Price belonged to a group of politically conservative Anglican clergy in Wales committed to the revival of the Welsh language and Welsh culture, and had a prominent role in a series of eisteddfodau (cultural festivals) held under gentry patronage in the Monmouthshire town of Abergavenny whose participants included scholars and dignitaries from England, France, Germany and India. This paper explores how Price and likeminded ‘reactionary patriots’ (Prys Morgan) used the Middle Ages to advance their vision of an ethnically and culturally distinctive Welsh nation conspicuous for its loyalty to Great Britain and its empire.

Medievalism and Imperial Modernity research strand seminar, co-organized with the Centre for Medieval Studies and Department of History

Location: Treehouse (BS/104), Berrick Saul Building

Admission: All are welcome to attend.